A couple weeks ago—as many were still hustling and bustling to get ready for Christmas—a few people on the Evansdale side of the city came together to help one man find his way home. Their kindness was noticed, but they say they were doing what they hope anyone else would have done.
On Dec. 10, an elderly gentleman wearing a veteran's hat walked into the Boston Beanery Restaurant and Tavern on Patteson Drive in Morgantown. A hostess told restaurant owner Angie Blankenship about the gentleman, who seemed confused or lost.
Blankenship said she spoke with the gentleman, asking him if he was with anyone, how he had gotten to the restaurant, and if he knew what his name was. The gentleman replied, "Of course I know my name," but was not able to give it or answer any of Blankenship's questions.
The restaurant owner knew she needed to help this gentleman and started by finding him a seat at a table and making sure he got something to eat and drink — a Coke, a bowl of chili and a grilled cheese, she recalled.
Blankenship said she called the non-emergency police number and requested help for the gentleman and then sat and talked with him until an officer arrived.
An officer from the Morgantown Police Department responded to the call and was able to help the gentleman remember his name and found out how to contact his son, Blankenship said.
The officer continued to sit and talk with the gentleman and even ate dinner with him until his son arrived to pick him up. Blankenship said the officer even offered to pay for the man's meal, but she, "of course, said no."
The officer, who asked his name not be disclosed, doesn't want any personal recognition because he said he was just doing his job.
"I firmly believe that any other officer at the Morgantown Police Department, had they been dispatched to the call, would have responded in the same manner. As such, I believe the entire department deserves the credit, not one single officer," the officer said.
"If anything, I would credit the response to the Crisis Intervention Training that Chief (Eric) Powell has set up and instituted throughout our department. I believe this type of training has allowed myself, and other officers, to respond to situations such as these with the utmost professionalism and care for the people we are interacting with."
Mike Forte, a local resident who witnessed the encounter at the restaurant that night, posted to social media a heartwarming photo of the officer and the gentleman sitting together.
Forte, founder and former owner of the Beanery, said he felt compelled to share the event, "showing the true dedication and compassion of our local law enforcement officers and our local businesses."
"The officer was not going to leave until he knew the man was safe," said Forte. "So much in the media lately has been negative about law enforcement, so I wanted everyone to see the positive sides. Angie and Dave Blankenship are wonderful owners of the restaurant. They care a lot about people and our local community."
Blankenship said the encounter touched everyone's heart. The officer "put everything that he had going on, on pause and attended to this man," she said.
When the man's son came to get him, Blankenship said he had tears in his eyes and thanked them for assisting his father. "I told him to bring him back," she said. "We would love for him to visit with us."
Blankenship said helping the gentleman was just the right thing to do.
"I would like to think that anyone and everyone would do exactly what I did." She hopes it will at least remind people that these small acts of kindness are what we need to be doing.
"If COVID has taught us anything, it should be that we need each other and we should be looking for opportunities to help each other, " she said. "You don't have to have money to feel good during the holidays. Just be kind to each other and give what you do have. We were in a restaurant and I had food in the restaurant, so that's what I gave."
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